Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup – License To Kell

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Thursday.

Welcome to the SP Roundup, my daily fantasy baseball article reviewing every starting pitcher’s performance from every Thursday game. I apologize for the jokes written in my delirium in advance. Have questions? Ask me during my office hours on Twitch weekday mornings from 10 am-12 pm ET.  

Mitch Keller (PIT) vs LAD (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 97 pitches.

I can feel the ire of fantasy baseball managers who want me to place Mitch Keller inside the Top 50 SP after yet another successful time on the bump, this time against a strong offense in the Dodgers via 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 97 pitches. Yep, that’s a Golden Goal and what looks to be a statement start. Let’s talk about it.

Does this feel not quite right to anyone else? In your head, sit down and think of what your ideal locations are for Keller’s four-seamers. Maybe it’s inside to both RHB and LHB. Maybe sneaking down-and-away to grab strikes when batters search for breakers. Or maybe my favorite – a ton of hiLoc% as it flirts with the top of the zone. Whatever you have in your head, it’s highly unlikely it’s this. To me, that reads like a hittable four-seamer with many mistakes and rarely with command around the zone. And yet, this pitched returned 48% CSW across 31 thrown, with five whiffs and just one hit – a pitch well-spotted up-and-in to Jason HeywardIn fact, Keller’s four-seamer had allowed just a 5.3% hard contact rate this season entering this year. That’s good for 98th percentile in the majors.

So maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s one of those “as long as I throw this in the zone it can have success” pitches and I’m completely missing something on this four-seamer as it’s much better than I’m giving it credit for, which means Keller can have starts like these even when his slider and curve aren’t doing a whole lot. They earned strikes when thrown, but just 16% usage between those breakers doesn’t seem like the traditional path to success with Keller.

It leaves me a bit baffled, but I’ll be the first to tell you when I could be flat-out wrong about a guy. Keller seems to be finding something in that repertoire that is working for him and it feels like a time to jump in…if he weren’t facing the #1 offense in baseball (the Rays) for his next start. So fine, sit that one out and come back in when he hosts Rockie Road in lovely PNC park.


Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:


Miles Mikolas (STL) @ SF (W) – 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 95 pitches.

Ayyyyy, he’s acting like a proper TobyDo you want to start him against the Angels? I guess that’s fine but with so many interesting pitching prospects getting their chances at the moment, it’s really tough to favor him over options that could actually make a difference.

Matt Strahm (PHI) vs SEA (W) – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 60 pitches.

He did this over sixty pitches with just five whiffs. You know how unsustainable that is, not to mention @LAD and TOR are next. Please don’t make me say more.

Braxton Garrett (MIA) @ ATL (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 48 pitches.

Stupid rain delay ruined this one for both Garrett and Wright. I gotta talk more to the people upstairs to prevent this kind of thing – they told me they’d hold off the rain until the game ended. The nerve of some people…

Kyle Wright (ATL) vs MIA (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 47% CSW, 45 pitches.

Wright was cooking against the Marlins and the drink of the forest cut this outing short. Nick, no one calls rain “the drink of the forest.” My bad. The drank of the forest. Much better, thx. You know, Wright chucked nearly 2/3 curveballs in those three innings. I kinda hope that sticks around – the dude went 27% SwStr rate and 47% CSW overall for a reason.

George Kirby (SEA) @ PHI (L) – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 89 pitches.

Yesssss. That’s still under a strikeout per inning. Yeah yeah yeah, I know, but Kirby is what I want to call a Holly – A pitcher who has the ratios of a Tobybut whose strikeout rate sits more in the 20-25% range, not the 15-20% clip. Think the best version of a Toby who we don’t expect to carry that elite SP #1/2 upside. Kirby still doesn’t have that secondary pitch we so desperately want him to have, but as long as they get strikes, the four-seamer will continue to do the rest. You love to see it. But he got the loss. Ah yes, the classic eight-inning-complete-game loss. He deserved better.

Hayden Wesneski (CHC) vs SD (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 74 pitches.

Yeah, I’ll take that. It’s not super encouraging seeing just 17 breakers and three strikeouts from Wesneski with only six overall whiffs, but now he gets the Nationals and Marlins. Surely at least one of those has to be a legit outing, right?

Tyler Mahle (MIN) vs KC (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 66 pitches.

It’s a great line, yep Mahle did it at just 91 mph and will now go under examination to make sure there’s nothing seriously wrong with his elbow. At least he got hurt while helping your team. I don’t think it’s going to go well for Mahle, sadly.

Gerrit Cole (NYY) @ TEX (W) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 92 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Still waiting for that slider, Cole. WHERE IS IT?! We have to find it, there must be a clue! Mr. Cage, please, there’s no need to get involve—WHY ARE YOU TEARING UP HIS SIGN?! He must have hidden the slider inside his Today/Tomorrow/Forever sign…Nooooooooooooooo

Logan Webb (SF) vs STL (L) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 102 pitches.

A start that looks great but contains a high WHIP because he carried at least a 9.00 hit-per-nine? Yep, that’s a Mr. Webb outing, alright. But my shoulder is still busted! Brandon, stay out of this. You have since 2009, after all. Okay…

Joey Wentz (DET) vs BAL (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 86 pitches.

Solid stuff from Wentz, who had his changeup sitting beautifully at the bottom of the zone. This deserves the ole thumbs up and a smirk as you speed away in your convertible, leaving him to eat his ham sandwich on the bench as the Mets roll up in their motorbikes. You can handle it buddy! You got this! 

Shane McClanahan (TB) @ CWS (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 73 pitches.

Aces gonna ace and not come close to the whiff total he had the last time he faced the White Soz. Save for that higher than anticipated WHIP, does that really matter? All good in McShane world…save for getting pulled at just five frames and 73 pitches. I get it – the Rays were up 12-2 entering the bottom half of the sixth – but still, let the man get his fill for the sake of all of us.

Andrew Heaney (TEX) vs NYY (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 97 pitches.

That’s a PQS and Heaney should have allowed more in the second if not for a gift of a strike three call to Rizzo. This wasn’t as heavy on the four-seamer as we’ve seen as of late from Heaney, but the changeup – not slider – was the pitch creeping up in usage to 30%. I’m pretty shocked he’s continued to hold the breaker back (just 11 thrown?!) and I’d imagine it’ll return soon enough. Keep throwing him out there.

Joey Lucchesi (NYM) vs WSH (ND) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 90 pitches.

Yeah, that’s the Lucchesi we know and already forgot about. Are you sure he’s in the majors? Max Scherzer should be back by his next start, so it was a fun run Joey. Say hi to your mother for me.

Kyle Gibson (BAL) @ DET (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 102 pitches.

Blegh. I loved Gibson for this start and his next one against the Royals and this is a bummer. Detroit is literally the worst offense in baseball. This is what happens, Larry, when you meet a barrel in the middle of the zone. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS LARRY. Ahem. Excuse me. I think we still hold Gibson for the Royals game as he’s had these bouts of failure before only to bounce back. I’m just gonna have to give him ugly looks for the next five days. I see you, all smug in that SP slot on my roster. DON’T THINK I’VE ALREADY FORGOTTEN.

Trevor Williams (WSH) @ NYM (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 95 pitches.

There are times when things go exactly as they should – not what you want necessarily, but as they should. This is one of those times.

Seth Lugo (SD) @ CHC (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 98 pitches.

Blegh. Not the best stuff from Lugo, but I still kinda dig what Lugo does as a Toby with a touch more upside. Nick, that’s an 18% CSW with just three strikeouts. I know, I know, I just think his ability speaks to better than this, okay? At the very least, stream him against the Reds in San Diego next time. That has all the right feelings.

Shohei Ohtani (LAA) vs OAK (W) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 93 pitches.

Duuuuuuude, this is the Athletics! They didn’t even want to be here today! This was a rough fourth frame after three frames of perfection and leave it to Ohtani to go two more perfect frames after to make up for it, all while earning a share of the Gallows PoleIn actuality, this is a Dusty Donut given the ERA is the only negative among bliss. We’ll take it and move on.

Julio Urías (LAD) @ PIT (L) – 5.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 96 pitches.

Despite a co-share of the Gallows Polethe Pirates are still roughing up pitchers as Urías had his second straight stumble on the bump. Well yeah, everyone stumbles on a bump. Annnnnnyway, his velocity was better as it crept close to 93 mph, but the signature hook wasn’t nearly as successful as we’ve seen while the changeup was horrible. We’re talking just 4/16 strikes – a 25% rate. Yeesh. You have to think he gets better moving forward and he’s able to brush this off.

JP Sears (OAK) @ LAA (L) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 87 pitches.

Womp womp. I was hoping for more from Sears, though he did have some lovely moments spotting a heater or getting whiffs on his slider. Let’s take a day off against the Mariners and reconsider his catalog for the Royals game. Maybe a page will pop out that you circle in red pen or, h*ck, why not rip out that page and slap it on your fridge. What’s life without a vision of what you want your future to be?

Dylan Cease (CWS) vs TB (L) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 99 pitches.

Yikes. Y’all know the drill – the curve and four-seamer didn’t help out the slider and it leads to games like this, especially when the slider isn’t at its best. At least Cease doesn’t need to face the #1 offense in the majors for the first time in two weeks when he gets the Twins + Royals up next. Forget these games and start him there, of course.

Zack Greinke (KC) @ MIN (L) – 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 88 pitches.

Greinke: Good for baseball, bad for fantasy, great for the state of Missouri. Vote Greinke.


Game of the Day 

Luis Castillo vs. Alek Manoah – The Mariners vs. Jays is always a fun matchup, let alone with two strong arms I enjoy watching. This should be a lovely time.

But Nick?! Where are the streaming picks? – I’ve moved them to the daily SP Matchups & Streamer Rankings article.

Have Questions? – Join my morning Twitch livestream! I answer all questions there for free: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm ET Monday through Friday.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

3 responses to “Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup – License To Kell”

  1. Perfect Game says:

    Heaney or Wright ROS in a roto redraft?

  2. Dale says:

    Seattle last in MLB in OPS v. lefty’s. I’m streaming Sears next week.

  3. ManwichMan says:

    I think you’re being a little harsh on Webb. The hits are gonna be annoying, but I wouldn’t call a 1.2 whip high this year. Last year that would be a bad number, but with so much volatility because of all the hitter friendly changes (as one example, Urias running a 1.6+ WHIP the last 3 weeks), 1.2 against a team like the Cards is pretty damn good from a guy probably drafted to be a #3 starter.

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